rebelling against low expectations

How do you practically fight for joy?


COURTNEY WRITES: My church has been talking a lot about joy lately. All over the Bible we’re told to be happy in God (Matthew 5:12, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 4:4, Psalms 5, 32, 33, 66, 68, 81, 100, etc.). So here’s the thing – how do you do it? How do you rejoice when you’re suffering, or when you just don’t feel glad?

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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected].


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  • I just want to point out that “joy” and “happiness” are two different things. It’s possible to be unhappy, but joyful at the same time. If a relative I love dies, i’m probably not going to be “happy” about that; but I can take joy in knowing God has a plan.
    Conversely, we can be “happy” and lack “joy”….Those people who are out partying and living messed up lifestyles; they may be “happy” in the moment but if htey are really honest with themselves they are empty and lacking joy.
    Joy is that spark in your eye that never goes out no matter your circumstances. Joy is that contentment from God that helps you get through those hard times…that helps you learn to be happy again. Joy is the knowledge that God has a greater plan than what’s difficult in the moment. Joy is what keeps us going!!
    James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

    So here’s the thing: having joy doesn’t mean you’re always happy, never struggling, or never miss church because you are sick. It means we don’t give up and we try to see thing from the right perspective and “look on the bright side”. It’s when we say “Not my will but thine” in our prayers when we’re struggling and willingly submit to the will of the Father. Even Jesus cried out and struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane. But His light never went out. He still took joy in obeying His Father because he loved us so much.

    I don’t know exactly what “answer” to give you. But the best advice I can give is when those hard times come, ask God to give you joy! Try to have a positive outlook and a willingness to struggle knowing God has a purpose and plan for your struggling; but at the same time don’t be afraid to struggle and cry and ask God “why?”…he may not answer you exactly the way you want; but it’s okay to cry out to him…Just never give up and always let your light shine!! Proclaim God;s love in those tough times…! Seek Him for strength.

    I hope this helps! And just know, I do NOT have this perfected in my own life…God has helped me grow in this area, but I still have a lot of work to go…

  • Joy is only achievable by God. We’re imperfect people. So I’d pray. Solomon prayed for wisdom and he got it. Solomon wasn’t born wise or anything. He prayed. Since God made joy, he can give it to you if you ask for it. You can’t force yourself to be joyful. It doesn’t come naturally. And you don’t want to have artificial joy. Everything pure and perfect is from above. So I would just say that the best thing to do is pray for joy.

  • Hey Rebelutionaries, I know this has nothing to do with this post, but I’d like to share it with you guys.
    Me and a team of a few teens are working on making a cool, 3D, video game. This video game is using bible references to make the story. It’s science fiction…but is based around revelations and other books in the Bible.
    But we are desperate for concept artists and 3D modalists. It’s just a volunteer position, but if you apply we can hopefully set up the Kickstarter campaign for the game. If you’d like to volunteer to be an artist you can check out the requirements on our blog at and apply at [email protected]

    Thanks guys,


    Note: if you are not an artist, other ways you can help are following our Twitter and Instagram pages (Avalon Online Team) and just spreading the word.

  • So, this is actually something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. After going through some very hard depression I felt like I didn’t even know what joy was anymore. I honestly wanted to have joy, but I didn’t know how. It really hasn’t been that long, and I’m still fighting depression, but I hope what I have learned will be helpful. 🙂
    Be optimistic, be thankful, because the more you give thanks, the more thankful you will be. Look for the good in things, in everything you go through, in everything you see, search as hard as you have to to find joy. Don’t dwell on what brings you down, don’t let your life revolve around everything bad, I started letting my life revolve around the fact that I struggle with depression, and it stole my joy. If there is something that crushes your joy, and you know it does, then get rid of it. Because it’s worth it. Surround yourself with joyful, optimistic people. The people you are around impact you, whether you think they do or not. Helping people is a great thing to do, I’ve found that sometimes, being strong for someone else helps me to take the focus off of what I’m going through, it helps me to refocus on what matters. Find what brings you joy. For me, it would be people, (just like what I said) I love to be with people, to be there for anyone who is hurting, to do things with people. So, find what brings you joy. If it’s people, then surround yourself with people, if it’s dancing, then dance as much as you need to.

    But most of all, You have to remember that the only true joy comes from Jesus.
    The only way you will ever fight for joy in a way that matters, is when we fight in prayer. Pray, read God’s word, surround yourself with strong Christian examples, turn to Jesus, only then will you find true joy. Hope this was helpful! 🙂

  • Hey Courtney,
    I would say happiness is an emotion coming from good circumstances, whereas joy is an emotion coming from the idea of knowing God is in control and has your best interest in mind.

    Something I’ve learned and am still learning is to pray more and than do what God wants me to do. I’ve learned that when we do that, we can have confidence in the fact that “we’ve done our part and it’s all in God’s hands”. And if it’s in God’s hands we get peace. And when we get peace, we can have joy in Jesus.
    (Jesus Joy… that’s actually pretty cool sounding!)

    I hope our comments can help you find the answer you were looking for!
    In Christ Alone,
    – Trent

  • Hey There Courtney!

    I just wanted to say that while happiness is a good thing, as Christians, we are called to search for joy in God. Happiness is temporary while joy can persevere. Now to answer your question, the undoubtedly best way to obtain joy, is to experience god’s love. I’ve never met someone who could not help but be overjoyed when they come face to face with God’s love for them.

    So if you’re wondering how to experience God’s love and peace, there are many ways, but it’s best when they are combined. The first few are the simple ways that we are able to talk to God and learn about him. This means reading the Bible and praying. Now while these can help give joy there is one thing that restores my peace and joy more than anything else. That is serving. I can’t tell you how many times I have been down in the dumps when I volunteered and something amazing happened. When we show God’s love to others, it becomes incredibly apparent to us. There is absolutely nothing that will give you more joy than expressing God’s love to others through serving and volunteering.

    That’s my best advice for how to be happy even when you’re struggling. I actually also wanted to use this opportunity to reach out to other Rebelutionaries about an idea I had. I’m thinking about starting a website called TeensOnAMission and it’s main objective is to bring volunteering opportunities to teens and bring teens to volunteering opportunities. It would be for teens, run by teens who had a passion for bringing the love of God and serving to other teens. There would be a teen representative for each town that would manage information about local volunteering opportunities and they would be available for contact for anyone who wanted to volunteer in their area. If it’s going to happen, I’m gonna need a lot of help. A website needs to be made, and the more people backing the idea, the better. If you want to learn more about it, go to .

    That or you could email me at [email protected] or text me at 443-823-4330
    I really hope you guys are passionate about getting teens involved in service!
    Thanks, TJ

    • Sounds like a good idea… though as a 12 year old in a small town, I’m not sure what I could really do to help you.

      • Don’t underestimate yourself Olivia! You could be a huge help to getting the idea up and running! After we get the website up and running we’re going to need a ton of supporters. We need town managers (people who manage opportunities in their town and nearby), and we’re going to need people everywhere to encourage their friends and people they know to volunteer to get the movement going. You could do something as simple as talking to people you know about the idea to get them inspired, or to go as far as helping with the website (I’m definitely not tech savvy so I’m gonna need some help). Alex and Brett’s whole message is to defy standards and to rise above the lie of adolescence. Olivia just know, being 12 in a small town is not a reason that you would not be able to achieve great things, it’s just another way that God can use you to inspire people by achieving things they didn’t imagine possible!
        Hope this helps, TJ

        • Ok, you’re right 🙂
          I don’t have a lot to work with (As in, I don’t know many people in my community, and most of my friends live in different states) and unfortunately, I don’t know about computer stuff. But if there is something that I can do to help, I’ll try my best.

          I admit, I’ve actually been trying to recruit my friends as fellow rebolutionaries, and was disappointed at first when they weren’t as excited as I was. Maybe something like this would help people to not see “doing hard things”as daunting and scary. I wish that other people could understand how much fulfillment and purpose being a part of the rebolution has given to me.

    • Neat idea, TJ. You should submit it as a project, check out the Submit Content page (if you haven’t already).
      I don’t know if I can help you, I’m not very good with technical stuff and I live in a small town, but I will pray!

      • Thanks Katie! The reason that I haven’t submitted it as a project is because it’s not like I have a website yet that I would be ablessed to base the project off of so I thought it would be rejected. I did however try to contact them but have not gotten a response. Still keeping hopes high though! Do you think it would count as a project yet?

        • It sounds like part of the project would be setting it all up, including the website. So I would say it counts as a project, but it’s not really up to me. 🙂 I guess I’d wait for a response.

  • You’ve gotten some good advice already. Let me just chime in with a warning: don’t look for joy in things that can only give you temporary happiness. Don’t settle for trying to find joy in just hobbies or friends or activities that make you feel good, always look to God as the ultimate source of joy. One of my favorite passage of scripture is Habakkuk 3. I’ll let it speak for itself.

    “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
    the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
    the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
    God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.”

  • I’ve found that joy isn’t always necessarily “learning to dance in the rain”, it’s learning to trust God in all that happens and know that he is with you. I mean, I’m pretty sure when Jesus was being crucified he wasn’t on the cross going, “Yes!! I am so glad this is happening to me!!” but he was trusting in his Father’s plan of salvation. Sometimes joy just comes from believing that the suffering is happening for a reason.
    A good example is Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

  • What helps me is to think about my salvation and God’s grace and love demonstrated towards me therein. This causes thankfulness and joy =^D

  • When I’m struggling with not feeling joyful or “happy,” here are the things I try to do.

    1. Get away from people. This may be me being an introvert, but honestly just getting away from people and having some quiet time to think and talk to God is a huge help for me.

    2. Read my Bible. Sure, it may sound like a “duh” thing, but it’s my number 1 source of comfort. I have several go-to passages that really comfort me a ton (like Psalm 103), but also just reading that day’s passages can be extremely comforting. It calms me down and helps me refocus and remember that my joy comes from Christ.

    3. Pray. Again, maybe a “duh” thing, but I love pouring my heart out to Christ and asking Him to fill me with His joy. Never underestimate the power of prayer, or time with God reading your Bible. Also asking other people to pray for me is big.

    4. Get to the root of the problem. What lies from Satan am I believing? Where am I finding my joy? Is it joy that I have–or circumstantial happiness? Am I looking to people to satisfy me and make me happy? Am I ungrateful for all the things God has given me? Am I thinking, “Jesus + ______ = joy”?

    5. Make a list of things God has given me. The hymn “Count Your Blessings” was written for a reason, and there’s a ton of truth behind it. Counting my blessings and listing out God’s gifts to me always feels like a slap in the face for my ungrateful attitude.

    6. Focus on others. Emailing/texting/talking to someone and asking just a simple, “Hey, how are you doing?” can open up the door to someone else’s pain and suffering. This past Sunday, I was having a light conversation with one of my friends, and then I asked, “How are you doing?” in a serious tone. She looked at me, and then burst into tears. I’m so thankful for the following conversation we had because it helped me get the focus off of myself and my problems and on to her and her struggles.

    I hope that was helpful! I’ve heard that joy is a choice, and it has nothing to do with our circumstances, but everything to do with our response to our circumstances and our relationship with Jesus.

    • Thanks for this! I’m an extrovert so I don’t really understand 1. But the rest of your suggestions are super helpful.

    • I wanted to add right in that some Christians have it especially hard to find joy. Christians with diseases such as Bipolar disorder and depression find joy hard to have. Jesus gives us a reason to be joyful but half the time we tend to be excesivly depressed ( chronic depression) or have anger issues/mania cycles ( Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, etc.)

      • I don’t think that this is what you mean, but just to let you know, you’re giving the impression that we can’t do anything about those psychological conditions. I think that Christians, while we can be sad, should never be depressed because we do have hope.

        • Ok. You can have joy and be a bipolar person and find joy. The reality is nobody is always joyful . Some people have a harder time being joyful than others. When I get depressed I get unjoyful

          • Actually, we are expected to always be joyful. It says in the Bible to “rejoice in the Lord always.” We don’t always have to be happy. We can be sad and regretful, but we shouldn’t be depressed.

  • For me, a musical person, music almost always does the trick, especially worship music. It’s especially effective if you sing it out.
    As for deeper sorrow, if it’s really serious, prayer is very helpful. I put on some music or play the piano and just tell God what I’m feeling. I don’t always feel happy afterward, but I do have his peace and joy inside.
    That distinction is very important. Happiness and joy are not the same. You don’t have to feel happy to be joyful; it comes from within. Feelings are temporary, but if you make joy really part of you, it won’t go away easily.

  • This reminds me a lot of an album I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately – The Art of Joy by Jackie Hill Perry. In her first song, there’s a line that says “If pleasure is our aim, then we’ll find it when our God is who our target is.”

    In other words, the only way to find joy, is to follow hard after God. Dig even deeper into Scripture. Pray even longer. Make it a point to actively pursue Him, and the true joy that stems from Jesus’ victory and never leaves will soon follow.

rebelling against low expectations

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